Vauxhall employs more than 2,000 staff at its Ellesmere Port plant and a poll released last week suggests they and other motor manufacturers say Britain should remain in the European Union.
The poll released on March 3 by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, shows that three quarters of SMMT members say remaining in Europe is best for their business.
The sector supports 800,000 jobs across the UK and contributes £15.5bn to the UK economy.
The independent survey, conducted by ComRes, showd that 77% of SMMT members if a referendum were held tomorrow, a ‘remain’ outcome would be best for their business.
It is a sentiment shared by 88% of large automotive companies who are SMMT members and 73% of small business members, with small and medium-sized businesses making up 72% of respondents.
Rory Harvey, managing director and chairman of Vauxhall, said, “The UK is the fourth largest global market for Vauxhall’s parent company GM and the largest EU market.
“We are part of a fully integrated European company where we benefit from the free movement of goods and people, and we believe not to be part of the EU would be undesirable for our business and the sector as a whole.”
Only a minority (9%) say leaving would be best, less than the proportion who are uncertain (14% don’t know).
Notably, no large companies surveyed said an exit would be in their business’ best interests.
Among the reasons SMMT members support remaining in the EU are that access to EU automotive markets has a positive impact on their business (66%).
This is followed by a majority saying that access to a skilled workforce (55%) and the ability to influence industry standards and regulations (52%) also have a positive impact on their business.
When asked to provide open-ended feedback, some of the key reasons given for staying in the EU included the importance of economic and market stability, securing the UK’s global competitiveness, and access to the single market’s free trade opportunities.
On the threat of a potential Brexit, 59% of SMMT members say it would have a negative impact on their business in the medium- to long-term, with a further 18% uncertain about the nature and extent of that impact.
Those predicting a negative impact said they feared becoming uncompetitive and losing business to EU rivals, while the risk of future investment being diverted to the continent also featured highly.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The message from UK Automotive is clear – being in Europe is vital for the future of this industry and to secure jobs, investment and growth.
“UK Automotive is thriving, with record car exports, new registrations and the highest manufacturing levels for a decade. Our industry supports 800,000 jobs across the UK and contributes more than £15bn to the UK economy – our members have clearly stated that pulling out of Europe could jeopardise this.”